Maria Henderson officially joins husband Benson on Bellator roster: ‘It’s something we’ve always hoped for’

Bellator MMA is now a family affair for the Hendersons.

Although Maria Henderson has competed under the promotion’s banner as an amateur in a one-off deal, she wasn’t rostered long-term like her husband. Until Friday, that is. As first reported by MMA Underground, Henderson, wife of former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson, inked a multifight deal with the promotion.

A Bellator official has since informed MMA Junkie that Henderson (1-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) will next fight against 3-0 amateur Mackenzie Stiller (0-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) at Bellator 293, a March 31 event at Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula, Calif.

“It’s something we’ve always hoped for,” Henderson told MMA Junkie on Friday. “Like I said, we fought for them before and I knew I needed a little bit more experience in the cage. I fought for them once and I fought for LFA a few times. We needed to get our feet wet. I’ve been trying to transition into MMA for a while, like, get fully into it. When we went pro, that’s what we did. I feel like it’s a good time for us. We know we’re going to make exciting things happen with Bellator.”


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Henderson, 30, fought at Bellator 268 in October 2021, when she defeated Collette Santiago in 40 seconds by submission. The bout was a rare amateur bout for the promotion, which decided to go outside of its typical professional boundaries and capitalize on the opportunity to put a husband and wife on the same card.

After she obtained a 3-0 record as an amateur with two submissions, Henderson turned pro. Henderson won her pro debut by Americana in 102 seconds at LFA 135 in July. There were light conversations about a long-term deal with Bellator in the past, but after her most recent win, the seriousness went to another level.

One previously long-standing obstacle for Henderson was the lack of a strawweight division in Bellator. However, the promotion may look to add one in the future. When or if they do, Henderson will be ready to prove herself.

“I knew they didn’t have a division,” Henderson said. “I’ve joked around with some of the guys in the past, like, ‘Hey, you know I’m ready if you want to start that division.’ They’re like, ‘Hey, bump up to 125 and we’re good to go.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, no. I can’t do that. I don’t even walk around at 125. It’s just exciting. It means that not that they’re basing it off me or anything, but I’m ready to help them open that door.

“I don’t know how many girls they have on their roster so far. I know they’re going to be having a division going in the future. It’s just going to take some time to get it up and running. It’s just a bigger platform to get myself going in that 115-pound division. I’m going to be the best 115-pounder in the world.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie